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Auditor General confirms parole scandal

  • February 17th, 2009

The Auditor General has confirmed what  justice sector insiders already knew – conditions of parole were routinely not enforced  Those insiders have been complicit in the callous political lie that public safety was held paramount  in the system.

The A-G’s report is surprisingly blunt.

"We chose 100 offender case files [..including ] 52 offenders considered to pose a high risk to the public.

"In most of those 100 case files, the Department had not followed one or more of its own sentence management requirements. Five of the requirements that my staff checked are the most important, in my view, for keeping the public safe, and one or more of these five requirements had not been followed in most of the 100 cases. There were several cases, some of which I have included in my report, where the Department had not completed important sentence management requirements at each stage of an offender’s parole, and we concluded that the Department was not managing these cases adequately"

It has long been open to any of the insiders in the parole scandal to get the same information straight from worried probation officers and prison officers. A number of the latter tried to blow the whistle, including a group in Christchurch by way of submission to my Select Committee on the Parole Bill. It fell on deaf Labour/Green ears.

The justice anointed, including Ministers and the Parole Board, have prefered the Nuremberg excuse – "not my job to know or care whether our conditions  mean anything, I just let them out because that’s the system". 

Safe in their cafes, leafy suburbs and security access offices the anointed fume about the "populism" of Sensible Sentencing and the rudeness of its criticisms of parole, while thousands of innocent people have suffered thefts, robberies, injury, rapes and death that would not have occurred without parole.

This is the same justice system that imposes criminal OSH liability on unfortunate ordinary employers. They are condemned for letting colleagues face unlikely or rare but still conceivable risks. The guilty parties in the justice system on the other hand knew as a matter of certainty that they were exposing helpless people to harm.

I’m looking forward to the Secretary of Labour’s response to my question, whether they are going to prosecute people in the justice establishment for Graeme Burton’s victims. It is due this week. 

How will officials distinguish the culpability of those whove collaborated to maintain a broken parole system, from the responsibility of the the West Coast miner they prosecuted, who was sharing the same risk as the mate who died?  

Here’s an extract from the 18 December 2008 NZPA report on that case, where the High Court doubled the fine imposed to $20,000, and ordered additional reparation of $25,000 to go to the widow of miner Robert McGowan who was killed during a flood.:

"In its decision released today, the court said a "substantial uplift" in existing levels of fines was needed to reflect the seriousness of workplace accidents, the need for deterrence, the effects of inflation and an increase in the maximum fines set in 2003.

In the other cases food manufacturer Cookie Time had a fine increased to $40,000 from $15,000. The fine related to an accident in February 2007, when a female worker’s arm was badly broken when it was caught in the mechanism of a conveyor belt.

The fine imposed on commercial construction company Hanham and Philip Contractors was increased to $50,000 from $5000.

It related to an accident in November 2007, when an employee of a contractor was seriously injured when he fell from a wooden platform.

Labour Department national support manager Andrew Kear said it was pleasing that recognition was being shown for the human and financial costs of workplace accidents.

It also enforced the need to motivate employers and others in the workplace to take action to keep people safe at work, he said.

The court said starting points for fines under the HSE Act should generally be fixed at:

Low culpability: a fine of up to $50,000.

Medium culpability: a fine of between $50,000 and $100,000.

High culpability: a fine of between $100,000 and $175,000.

The court noted that higher levels of fines might be required in cases of extremely high culpability."



Stephen as usual you are spot on, will be very interesting watching the officials squirm out of this. They are throwing thousands of $ at the Couch case to try and cover up yet another botch up. We’ll get them yet!!!



  • Jim Maclean
  • February 18th, 2009
  • 7:32 pm

two stalwarts in the fight for accountability. Garth and Stephen I salute you for your efforts to keep everyone safe and bring a little balance to application of law. We want people kept alive and uninjured. Where adverse events are predictable and avoidable people should do their job and stop them hurting the public. We do need to make companies accountable for industrial accidents and the penalties must be enough to motivate compliance but right now they seem unnecessarily punative on business and to completely ignore a lack of responsibility or accountability in corrections. More strength to both of your blogging arms!

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